Indigenous advisory group to help Wilmot with next steps on Prime Ministers Path project
First Peoples Group shared first look at engagement strategy during virtual council meeting
The Township of Wilmot has asked an Indigenous advisory firm to take the lead in a series of public consultations and help draft next steps on the Prime Ministers Path project.
The Ottawa-based First Peoples Group (FPG) has been hired and tasked with laying the groundwork for an engagement strategy that will allow residents to voice their thoughts and concerns with the project over the coming months.
The advisory firm met with council virtually for the first time during a council meeting on April 26 and shared an draft overview of the engagement strategy, which includes a four step consultation process with the community.
A set of recommendations will then be presented to council once the process is complete.
"We've designed it so that it allows adaptability and flexibility," Cassidy Caron, an associate with the group, told council during the meeting.
"Each of the steps of this process are going to be informed by the step that comes before it. We are going to adapt to the community's needs as we continue to move forward."
Broad community outreach, opportunities for one-on-one conversations with community members, gathering input through questionnaires and several focus groups will be part of the process, Caron added.
The engagement strategy is available on the Township of Wilmot's website.
'Finding common ground'
Several delegates shared concerns with the project and its controversial past. They called for transparency with the community throughout the consultation process during Monday's council meeting.
Delegates also spoke out about incidents of racism and harassment on the BIPOC and the LGBTQ community within the township.
Guy Freedman, president and senior partner with First Peoples Group, told The Morning Edition on Tuesday that community engagement will play a key role in crafting next steps.
The group went through a similar process with the City of Kingston and created the Engage for Change and Your Stories, Our Histories projects after consulting with the community.
"The community knows best," Freedman said.
"I don't think there's any way to stop the country as it moves toward reconciliation with Indigenous people and it may not seem that way for some people who are on the ground and struggling with some of these issues here, particularly in places like Kingston, Charlottetown or Wilmot, or pick a place.
"When issues are polarizing, it's sometimes hard not to get paralyzed by that, but our job is to find common ground and some solution."
Listen to the full interview below: